30 October 2006

Beautiful Outside

If Winter and Edmonton were in prison together, Edmonton would be Winter's bitch.

28 October 2006

Suck it up, Clock Boy!

I love my Daylight Savings Time Rant. I think of it everytime I change my clocks. It originally appeared on Lusex Pi on October 26, 2003. I'm going to present it here in it's [almost] original form.

Last night the local news was doing a story on Daylight Savings Time (heretofore known as DST) and how some people were opposed to it. They interviewed this one lady who was against DST. She had big, big red hair and looked like a cat person (if you know what I mean). She showed off her watch and clock collections and said that she refused to turn her clocks back. Well, that’s just great, Honey, but no one cares. You’re not making some grand social statement by not setting your clocks back, you’re just being childish.

Cat Lady then went on to say that DST causes stress to people and that by eliminating it, we could relieve a bit of stress in this stressful, stressful world. How tightly wound (no pun intended…) are you that setting your clocks back one hour (or ahead one hour) is stressful? Most people love the Fall Back because it means a free hour of sleep. To be fair, it’s possible the Cat Lady has a super-stressful job, like deactivating nuclear weapons in airtight rooms full of nerve gas with holes in her biosuit. In that case, I can empathize.

There was also an interview with a Clock Shop owner who had to reset all the clocks in his store. Poor baby! It’s not as if he wasn’t aware of this when he started his business. He wasn’t like:

Daylight savings time? What’s that?"
[someone explains it. This takes awhile: there are
puppets and a flow-chart involved

"You’re not fucking serious! Oh, man! This is too
stressful! I knew I should have joined the bomb squad."

Clock Boy said he’d be getting lots of calls over the next couple of days from people who didn’t know how to set adjust their clocks. Yeah. Two things with that: 1) It’s your job! Suck it up, Clock Boy! 2) Who doesn’t know how to change their clocks? (And as I write that I realize the answer is, sadly, lots of people. For example, I bet you $20 that when I go home at Christmas neither of the clocks in my parents' vehicles will have been changed. Really, people, read the manual already!)

Now, I understand it can be time consuming setting your clocks back, especially if you have a digital clock that only counts forward. For example, last time I reset my clock at 12am, so I had to push the “hour” button 23 (!) times to make it say “11pm.” It took almost a minute out of my life! Whose time is that precious (I’m talking to you, Cat Lady) that you can’t spare one minute (or less: analog watches take mere seconds!) to set back a clock? What do you do after a power failure when you have to reset the hour and the minutes? Do you just curl into a corner and die? What about traveling in different time zones? (Don’t tell me you’re anti-time zones too). Do you have to book time off work at the Bomb Lab to de-stress? Do you check yourself into a hospital suffering from exhaustion? GROW UP.

Of all the things in this vast, screwed-up world that you can be against, DST shouldn’t even be an option. Entire species are vanishing everyday, we are literally killing the planet with our very existence, everything we eat causes cancer, there are children in 3rd world countries dying of diseases that are treatable and/or curable, children in our own country can’t read, our military couldn’t defend a hockey net, and you pick Daylight Savings Time as your personal crusade? Are you completely lacking a moral and social conscience? Are you so devoid of awareness that this strikes you as a grand injustice? Read a newspaper, watch the news, look outside and then tell me that DST is what’s causing people stress in this world.

27 October 2006

Battle of the Popular Canadian Science Popularizers

I went to a talk last night given by Jay Ingram. Jay Ingram is one of Canada’s most famous Science Popularizers. I was thinking that if I didn’t hate public speaking, and if I wasn’t ignorant of every discipline other than my own, that I’d be a great Science Popularizer.

Jay’s talk was pretty awesome. It was about consciousness, specifically if animals possess consciousness. It was a refreshing talk in that it was just another Power Point presentation. Power point was involved, but it was really only used as a tool to show us pictures. The rest of the time it was just Jay Ingram talking. He’s a great talker. He was exactly as he is on TV. He’s got such a unique voice, and he organizes his talk very well, and uses interesting and thought provoking illustrations. I think I’ll probably buy his new book.

There’s a website called Fametracker that does this thing called “2 Stars 1 Slot” where they pit niche actors against each other (e.g., Battle of the Blonde Cult TV Stars Turned Movie Scream Queens: Kristen Bell vs Sarah Michelle Gellar) and at the end they pick a winner. I was wondering what the result would be if they pitted Jay Ingram against David Suzuki: Battle of the Popular Canadian Science Popularizers. I think Suzuki would win, because he’s more well-known. His show was on CBC, whereas Ingram’s show is on Discovery Channel – which is cable. You can get the CBC in the furthest reaches of Canada. His popularity was proven when he was voted the 5th Greatest Canadian, and Ingram didn’t even make the Top 100. Suzuki beat Alexander Graham Bell! This is how much Canada likes Suzuki. At this point I don’t think Ingram would stand a chance. That doesn’t mean he’s not great, he just needs to wait until he’s further along in his career before he challenges Suzuki. If it was just me, and on this page it is just me, I’d probably pick Ingram.

26 October 2006

The Bunny Scale

There’s this awesome book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I read it years ago, but never reviewed it. Anyway, the main character is an autistic boy and one of his quirks is he predetermines, each day, what kind of day it will be. He counts the cars on his way to school, the number of cars of a certain colour correspond to the kind of day it will be. I’ve decided to do the same based on the number of bunnies I see on my walk to school. One of the cool things about U of A is the hares (or, maybe, jack rabbits – I forget) that run wild on campus. Based on nothing at all, I’ve devised the following scale.

0 bunnies: An average day – nothing special will happen
1 bunny: Better than average – maybe someone will bring cookies
2 bunnies: A good day – I’ll only think of quitting my program once or twice
3 bunnies: An exceptionally good day – I’ll get work done and there will be lots of fun emails
4 bunnies: A Perfect Day - I’ll run out and buy a lottery tickets, only good things can happen
Dead bunnies: A bad, bad day – I’ll go home, crawl under the covers, and cry.

I want all my U of A friends to feel free to use this scale. Those of you in other places should modify it for your locations. Kimmy, you can count moose. Anna, you can count sea gulls in the harbour during your ferry ride. Annie, you can count…wildebeest or hyenas (are there wildebeest and hyenas in Cape Town?). Julie, Monica, and Chanty can count the seals in the Vancouver harbour. Celine and Danny, I don’t know what kind of animal you’d count in Scotland…cute boys with accents, I guess.

24 October 2006

I've got the will to drive myself sleepless

I had a sleepless night last night. It wasn’t entirely devoid of sleep, but it came pretty close. It all started when I fell asleep on my couch around 8. I woke up in time for Prison Break at 9 (thank goodness I didn’t miss a single, precious minute of Wentworth Miller staring at things), but the damage was done. As far as my circadian rhythm was concerned, I had my sleep for the night. So, I watched Heroes after that. I can’t decide if I like that show yet, but the Hiro character is beyond adorable so it’s not painful to watch. I went to bed at the reasonable hour of 11, but couldn’t sleep (see above), so I read my book. It’s a nice, lovely book by Bill Bryson called A Walk in the Woods. That was my second mistake, apparently, because there was a description of a murder in there that pretty much guaranteed that I wouldn’t be sleeping. It wasn’t even graphic, it was just really creepy and so very, very applicable to Cricket and I (and others) living in the middle of nowhere like we did for the past two summers. It was not the kind of thing I should have read before bed, because I tend to take these things and run with them. And I ran with it until about 2 am. Surprisingly, I don’t feel more tired than I usually feel. Maybe 4 hours is all I really need.

23 October 2006

Things I shouldn't have to tell you

I was going through an old notebook and I came across a list I made of improper quotation uses. This is a pet peeve of mine, when people use quotations for emphasis. That’s not what quotation marks are for! I shouldn’t have to tell people that! I got these from signs and advertisements and I wouldn’t have written them down if I didn’t see them. Tell me there isn’t something inherently wrong with the following.

“Hair” straightener

Buy one get one “free”

Vacation “on Lake Placid”

“Please” do not squeeze us, we are fragile

“Babysitter” available

God is here for “you”

And my absolute, all-time, favourite:

Become a commercial “pilot”

19 October 2006

Watch More TV

The other night I had noodles for dinner. Not because I particularly wanted noodles, but because I wanted to eat noodles with chopsticks. I should really stop picking meals based on their entertainment value.

As I was watching CSI: NY (the only CSI worth watching) the other night, it occurred to me that I could totally write for that show. The dialogue is so…basic. I think the writers put all their effort into coming up with clever crimes that they have no energy for anything else. It’s all evidence-collection-montages and puns. I could script that. There are easily 10 minutes of montage in every episode, and practically every other line is some cheesy pun. Come to think of it, I could probably act in that show. All I would have to do is manipulate laboratory equipment and wear a lab coat. That’s essentially what I do everyday any way (the days I make it into the lab, that is). If I was really going to analyze it, I’d have to say I watch it for Gary Sinise (who, due to a clause in his contract, gets the most puns-per-episode) and Carmine Giovinazzo (because how can you not like a guy with a name like “Carmine?”).

I’ve been thinking about what my inaugural picture should be and I finally settled on this classic. I’ve always felt this epitomizes field work. It’s important to note that I’m probably wearing at least three layers, and that I had been working in the rain for most of the day. I thought about cropping it, but I like the Bonaparte’s Gull in the background.

18 October 2006

R.I.P. Lusex Pi

For about five years I've been maintaining a site on Angelfire. I started the site one evening when I was bored and unemployed. I put a lot of time into that site. My html skills were lacking, but I managed to crib enough code from other sources to piece together a passable site. I kept it going on and off. That site and I had a great relationship (except for the freakin' pop-ups). Lately, however, I've noticed that the magic is gone. I just don't enjoy keeping that site running. I love writing, and I still want to get my word out to the people (or whatever) but I don't like that particular medium.

Instead I've decided to try the blogging-for-dummies route. It's less work for me, so I'll be more inclined to post more. Also, it has comment functions, so it's interactive for my friends.

I will keep the old site up so that the reviews are still accessable, but will not be adding anything new to it. I'll keep doing reviews, though, I like writing those too much to stop.